Quebec Premier François Legault announced the government is easing some of the restrictions at private seniors’ homes that were put in place in March to limit the spread of COVID-19.
“By wanting to protect our elders, we’ve taken away a lot of freedom of movement,” said Legault in French as part of his daily briefings. “It was necessary to do so, but now is the time to gradually allow them to have a more normal life.”
Since March 23, according to Legault, regular visits had been banned throughout Quebec’s 1,800 private seniors’ homes. The 130,000 residents who lived there have been unable to leave.
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“As of now, they will be able to go outside without supervision, they can go and see their loved ones,” continued Legault.
The premier also announced that as of May 11, a caregiver, who is “significant” in an elder’s life, will be able to care for them inside private long-term care homes.
“We can’t protect physical health at the extent of mental health,” said Legault, citing that it’s “not fair” that some people haven’t left their residences in two months.
“One of the saddest consequences, has been people who leave without being able to see their family one last time,” said Marguerite Blais, Quebec’s minister responsible for seniors. “For reasons of humanity and dignity, we have decided to remove the ban on visits in palliative care.”
Depuis le début de la crise, on a pris des mesures strictes dans les résidences pour personnes âgées pour limiter la propagation du virus.
Mais il ne faut pas sacrifier la santé mentale pour la santé physique.
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— François Legault (@francoislegault) May 5, 2020
Blais was firm that the flexibility does not mean measures need to “slacken.” She stressed the government’s word of the day is “prudence” and trusts citizens to remain diligent by keeping physical distancing guidelines.
Quebec’s director of public health, Dr. Horacio Arruda explained that it is important to remain mentally stimulated at a certain age and that confinement brings too much “stress, anxiety, and even fear.”
Arruda also stressed the importance of maintaining the two-metre distancing. He said as of May 11, the government will set up “specific measures” in businesses (he cited grocery stores and pharmacies) for people 70 years old and older, to allow them to shop and “to make sure there’s less risk.”